Tuesday, March 25, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 9.68: Seeing a Fault as Not a Fault vs Seeing a Fault as a Cause of Suffering

⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Vāṇī)
yā ca pravttā tava doṣa-buddhis-tapo-vanebhyo bhavanaṁ praveṣṭum |
tatrāpi cintā tava tāta mā bhūt pūrve 'pi jagmuḥ sva-ghān vanebhyaḥ || 9.68

Again, as for your thinking it a fault

To re-enter the palace from the ascetic woods,

Have no worry in that regard, dear son –

People even in ancient times left the forests and went back home.

I can see myself sitting uptight, the whole system more or less in the grip of fear, the head pulled back, the two sides of the self more or less out of communication with each other, and the pelvis being used as if it were part of the legs rather than part of the back.

The above paragraph might sound on first reading like a kind of modesty, or self-deprecation, but on closer inspection it contains my proudest boast – thanks to many years of blindly groping around, I at least begin to see the major fault lines in myself.

For the 1st pāda of today's verse, the old Nepalese manuscript and EBC's text have bhava-doṣa-buddhiḥ, in which compound bhava-doṣa- might mean “the faults in becoming” or “the faults in prosperity.”

In BC9.43, the bodhisattva spoke of the faults that tend easily to go, like unseen black snakes, with royal glory (śrī-sulabhair... doṣair-adṛśyair-iva kṛṣṇa-sarpaiḥ); and in 9.47 he spoke of leaving family life (gārhasthyam-utsṛjya) having seen the faults attendant on it (dṛṣṭa-doṣaḥ).

So bhava-doṣa- could refer back to these kind of faults, attendant on royal pomp and on family life in general.

But EHJ's text, in which bhava is amended to tava, reads more easily; and I have gone with EHJ's amendment.

Either way, whether we read bhava-doṣa-buddhiḥ or tava doṣa-buddhiḥ, today's verse as I read it turns on the compound doṣa-buddhiḥ, which expresses discernment with regard to faults.

Today's verse thus brings to mind, by way of contrast, what the Buddha says to Nanda towards the end of SN Canto 16:

na doṣataḥ paśyati yo hi doṣaṃ kas-taṃ tato vārayituṃ samarthaḥ /
When a man does not see a fault as a fault, 
who is able to restrain him from it?
guṇaṃ guṇe paśyati yaś-ca yatra sa vāryamāṇo 'pi tataḥ prayāti // SN16.75 //
But when a man sees the good in what is good, 
he goes towards it despite being restrained.

The compound doṣa-buddhiḥ, or discernment of faults, also puts us in mind of the four stages of sitting-meditation as Aśvaghoṣa describes them in SN Canto 17, where progress (or regress) through the stages depends on discernment of faults at progressively subtler levels.

If I come back to the description of faultiness with which I started this comment, the four primitive vestibular reflexes I refer to is each like a cornerstone of human action. The reflexes are not faulty per se. But when they are immature, or aberrant, or not properly integrated, then they tend to be profoundly implicated with faults like fearful and greedy grasping, and with faulty behaviour that lacks integrity.

tad-vyādhi-saṃjñāṃ kuru duḥkha-satye doṣeṣv-api vyādhi-nidāna-saṃjñām /
So with regard to the truth of suffering, see suffering as an illness;
with regard to the faults, see the faults as the cause of the illness;
ārogya-saṃjñāṃ ca nirodha-satye bhaiṣajya-saṃjñām-api mārga-satye //SN16.41//
With regard to the truth of stopping, see stopping as freedom from disease;
and with regard to the truth of a path, see a path as a remedy.

tasmāt pravṛttiṃ-parigaccha duḥkhaṃ pravartakān-apy-avagaccha doṣān /
Comprehend, therefore, that suffering is doing; 
witness the faults impelling it forward;
nivṛttim-āgaccha ca tan-nirodhaṃ nivartakaṃ cāpy-avagaccha mārgam //SN16.42//
Realise its stopping as non-doing; 
and know the path as a turning back.

yā (nom. sg. f.): [that view] which
ca: and
pravṛttā (nom. sg. f.): mfn. going to , bound for (acc. loc. inf.)
pra- √ vṛt : to roll or go onwards (as a carriage) , be set in motion or going ; to come forth , issue , originate , arise , be produced , result , occur , happen , take place
bhava-doṣa-buddhiḥ: (nom. sg. f.): meditation on the faults of prosperity
bhava: coming into existence , birth ; becoming ; being ; well-being , prosperity
tava [EHJ] (gen. sg.): your
doṣa-buddhiḥ (nom. sg. f.): notion of fault
buddhi: f. the power of forming and retaining conceptions and general notions , intelligence , reason , intellect , mind , discernment , judgement ; an opinion , view , notion , idea , conjecture ; thought about or meditation on (loc. or comp.)

tapo-vanebhyaḥ (abl. pl.): from the ascetic woods
bhavanam (acc. sg.): n. a place of abode , mansion , home , house , palace , dwelling ; n. coming into existence , birth , production ; n. the place where anything grows
praveṣṭum = infinitive pra- √ viś: to enter , go into , resort to (acc. or loc.)

tatra: ind. there, to that
api: also
cintā (nom. sg.): f. thought , care , anxiety , anxious thought about (gen. loc.)
tava (gen. sg.): your
tāta (voc.): a term of affection addressed to a junior or senior
mā: a particle of prohibition or negation, most commonly joined with the Subjunctive i.e. the augmentless form of a past tense (esp. of the aor. e.g. tapovana-vāsinām uparodho mā bhūt , let there not be any disturbance of the inhabitants of the sacred grove )
bhūt = 3rd pers. sg. subjunctive bhū: to be

pūrve (loc. sg.): in former times, in ancient times
api: ind. even, also
jagmuḥ = 3rd pers. pl. gam: to go
sva-gṛhān (acc. pl.): to their own houses, their own homes
vanebhyaḥ (abl. pl.): from the woods

捨家遊山林 還歸亦非過 

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